The Cougar basketball team lost two big contributors due to injury in 6-foot-9-inch, 235-pound Chris Collinsworth and 6-foot-8-inch, 195-pound Stephen Rogers. So, Coach Rose called up 6-foot-7-inch, 260-pound Bronson Kaufusi to gauge his interest.
“They have two big guys that got injured, and they’re scholarship guys,” Kaufusi said. “Those are huge losses – players like Chris Collinsworth, who is a very good player, good athlete, and I played against him. He’s really good.
“Then you have Rogers as well, so with those injuries they need some depth there, and so I played high school basketball against those guys, been on their teams and stuff. So, I guess I fit the description a little bit.”
Before Kaufusi possibly sees the court, he’ll make sure to talk to Coach Mendenhall about it.
“I definitely will go through Coach Mendenhall first,” Kaufusi said with a smile.
But what about his father Steve Kaufusi, who happens to be his position coach on the defensive line?
“He’s going to support me with whatever I want,” Bronson said. “He knows it’s a choice that I have to make, and whether I do it or not, he’ll be for it. He’s seen how it’s helped me throughout my life.”
There is a lot of skill development that can be transferred over from one sport to another. Basketball allows players to develop good footwork that can help, say, a big defensive lineman like Kaufusi.
“I think there’s a lot of things that complement one another,” he said. “With basketball there’s a lot of running and, you know, you don’t stop, whereas football’s a bit different where you go really fast, then stop. But there’s a lot of things like footwork, hand-eye coordination, jumping and things that can really run together between football and basketball.
“I think with basketball, I’ll be in shape more. I’ll still be able to do football and lifts and things if it’s a possibility, but through my whole high school career it’s really helped me just as far as body control – being so tall – and just quickness as well.”
About a month after coming home from his mission in New Zealand, Kaufusi was receiving playing time as a BYU defensive tackle. But would he be ready to jump right in and add more depth to the basketball team?
“It will definitely take a lot more touch,” Kaufusi said with a smile. “Basketball is more about finesse, you know, and football is more you’re running straight and you have your assignment and you just do it. With basketball there’s that flow of the game and I would have to get back into it. I would have to get that somehow.”
The Cougar football team currently has three games left in the regular season, and that’s not including a bowl game. On the other hand, the men’s basketball team has already played several exhibition games and opens its season this Friday.
“Yeah, there is an overlap, you know, it’s the [preseason],” said Kaufusi. “I would have to keep up as far as lifting weights, but it’s definitely possible and I’ve heard of people doing it.
“If it were to happen I would take care of the football season, and that’s what I’m focused on now. That’s what I’m doing. Then following that I would jump into it for it to happen. It would be fun though!”
Then there’s the risk factor. The more sports one plays, the greater the risk of injury. If Kaufusi were to suffer an injury, it would affect two rosters.
“Yeah, there’s always that risk I think in anything, like, in any sport you play,” Kaufusi said. “That’s why my family is always getting hurt here or there because we’re playing something, but that’s just what’s going to happen because there’s always that risk. And you just always play hard and hope it’s not you that gets that injury.”
Despite the demands that playing two sports would require, Kaufusi feels the reward is greater than any risk.
“Yeah, I think it would be something that would help me,” Kaufusi. “I don’t think it would hinder me in any way. It would be fun!”